Eight students from Ewing and O'Neill were among the more than 80 Nebraska teens that gathered at the State Capitol on March 15 for a Kick Butts Day rally against Big Tobacco.
The event was organized by No Limits, Nebraska’s youth-led anti-tobacco movement, as part of the nationwide Kick Butts Day tobacco awareness campaign. The group marched through downtown Lincoln before gathering on the west steps of the Capitol.
The No Limits Youth Board is concerned about Big Tobacco’s marketing tactics that aim to make young people their next generation of customers. Flavored products, including e-cigarettes, come in packaging similar to candy in an effort to attract younger users. Youth Board Member Cecelia Ponce of Hartington told the group they can have an impact in their hometowns and beyond.
“We may come from all over the state. We may all have different home lives. We may compete against each other in school activities. We may have never met the people next to us,” said Ponce. “But we are gathered as one to show the world we are not stereotypical teenagers. We are teens who want to change our world for the betterment of all. What better way than by kicking Big Tobacco's butt.”
Students from 20 Nebraska cities and towns participated in the rally, which is the largest single Kick Butts Day event in the nation. Before the rally, participants split into small groups to meet individually with state senators to discuss tobacco issues affecting youth in Nebraska. Wilber-Clatonia senior Kamrin Edmonds says he’s grown from his involvement as a youth board member for No Limits.
“No Limits and events like Kick Butts Day have taught me that being a leader and speaking up for what I believe in doesn’t have to be scary,” said Edmonds. “From talking to classmates, teachers and local senators, I know it is important to stand up to Big Tobacco and do my part to change the social norm.”
Participants displayed 1,300 shoes on the steps of the Capitol to represent the number of people who die every day from tobacco-related illness in the United States. Brooklyn Larimore of Bellevue spoke about the meaning of the display, and the importance of fighting Big Tobacco. "Too many people have died too soon because of these products, and I don't want to watch anyone else suffer," Larimore said. "These deaths can be prevented. If we all find our voice and our passion we can reverse this tide."
No Limits is open to all Nebraska youth in grades 7–12. To learn more about upcoming events and opportunities, visit NoLimitsNebraska.com or contact Molly Kincaid at 866-394-8336 or email@example.com.
Kick Butts Day is a nationwide event promoted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to encourage youth to stand out, speak up and seize control in the fight against Big Tobacco. Additional information about tobacco use, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at TobaccoFreeKids.org.